It was garbage day and my street was lined with garbage cans awaiting the high priest of refuse and his noisy fume-belching chariot. You know what I mean: that monstrous contraption on wheels that sets every hound in the neighborhood to caterwauling precisely at 6 am. Anyhow, while walking I noticed that a few of my neighbors have very small garbage cans. The small garbage cans are little larger than the average trash can under the sink in most homes. (Who lives in those homes with such small garbage cans . . . hobbits?)
It got me thinking as I walked past the homes in my neighborhood: What kind of garbage is inside these homes? Is there infidelity, rage, abuse, violence, addiction, sickness, avarice, bankruptcy, sloth, selfishness, self-loathing, depression, worry . . . hoarding? Of course there is! This is the human condition. Each home contains stories and not all those stories are pleasant. There are even homes where everything is going well and the occupants perceive no need for God, and yet they are spiritually dead.
Should I go from door to door and share how God can change bad stories into good stories? The problem is that our neighborhood gets a lot of peddlers going door to door selling all sorts of goods and services. It gets tiresome. Because of this, I’m not sure going door to door would be effective in my neighborhood. So how do we, the church, reach people holed up in their homes?
Thankfully, most churches have a variety of outreach techniques to reach people in the local community. Besides, people are more likely to attend church if someone they know invites them. What I’d like to address here is what people can expect after converting to Christianity. Here goes: You will still have problems. (Yeah, I’m a lousy salesperson.)Sure, some folks experience a rapid improvement in their circumstances post-conversion. Those are exceptions, not the norm. Ask any Christian and she will tell you that problems don’t automatically go away just because you have Christ. At times they might even intensify. All I can say is that without Christ, the Holy Spirit, a healthy church, a few close Christian friends, prayer and the Bible, my house (my life) would likely overflow with garbage. Christ is the high priest who comes around and collects the spiritual and emotional garbage in my life and takes it far away. (Hey, that was a clever metaphor.) With Christ we get access to wisdom that can help us deal with our garbage. We don’t always make the best use of that wisdom, but at least we have access.